Bo Porter didn't need to be reminded what the day meant. The Astros manager knew, and he was proud to take part.

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It also served as the day of President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Add in an Astros appearance at the Urban Youth Academy — the north Houston baseball facility is an outlet for disadvantaged youth and is surrounded by urban blight — and Porter stood a little taller and spoke with extra pride while discussing what it meant to be one of three African-American managers in major league baseball on MLK Day.

"It just goes back to appreciating those who have come before you and the sacrifices which they made to give you the different opportunities that you may have today," Porter said. "There is a sense of belonging and a sense of pride that comes with those opportunities. … I'm completely honored to be able to stand here today as the manager of the Houston Astros."

Monday also was about giving back. Porter made two stops during the first day of the Astros' annual CAREavan, participating in the MLK Grande Parade in downtown Houston before heading to the academy. Joined by relief pitcher Wesley Wright and former Astros stars J.R. Richard and Jimmy Wynn, Porter took an active role with about 100 young players.

A fly-ball session saw Porter ask for a glove so he could participate, and the first-year manager gave an impromptu speech following the completion of baserunning drills.

Necessary assets

Porter spoke of energy and relentless drive. They're two of his primary assets and biggest strengths. And they'll be much needed for the rebuilding Astros, who are expected to struggle mightily in the American League West Division.

Wright acknowledged a 2012 club that lost a franchise-record 107 games lacked chemistry and teamwork. Monday was his first day around Porter. The lefthander's already impressed.

"The fact that he's able to pass on his energy and passion to the players, I think, is going to be very important during the course of a long season," Wright said. "When times are tough — which they always are — it helps to have someone that can keep you motivated and keep you focused on the goal at hand. I think it's going to pay dividends. Maybe not immediately but definitely down the road."